If you are reading this, I assume you are getting ready to load a cargo trailer for an upcoming move, or maybe you're going on an extended trip.
Before you start loading your trailer, there are five things you should remember to make sure you load your cargo trailer safely and efficiently.
Let's help you get your trailer loaded with this step-by-step guide. These steps are a general guide for loading a trailer correctly. Proper loading will vary based on trailer type.
Park your trailer on a level surface
Begin by making sure your trailer is parked on a level surface. If it is not level, it may shift or tip once the loading begins.
It is best to ensure your trailer is on level ground before you start and that there’s plenty of room for your vehicle to be hitched up.
Chock the wheels
To further stabilize your trailer while loading it, wheel chocks are recommended.
Simply chocking the wheels will help ensure your trailer won’t move or roll while loading cargo. It will also help prevent shifting once weight is added to the trailer.
You can also hitch your trailer up to your vehicle before loading and place the vehicle in park with the emergency brake engaged to help keep the trailer stabilized.
Make sure the weight is distributed 60/40
Before loading anything into the trailer, take a quick inventory of your cargo and roughly plan out where you’ll be placing it in the trailer.
The rule to follow is 60/40. (see video above)
60% of the trailer load should be in front of the axle, and 40% should be behind. This will help ensure proper tongue weight to deter trailer sway.
Load heaviest items First
Following the 60/40 rule when loading a trailer is vital for safe towing. The best way to load for proper weight distribution is to start with the largest and heaviest items.
Place heavy cargo in the trailer's center, just forward of the axle. Then, lighter-weight items can be placed around them, being distributed evenly.
Place Lightweight Cargo on Top
With heavy items loaded, you can load the lighter cargo in open nooks or on top of the heavy cargo if it is safe.
Lightweight cargo may include small tools or supplies, or it could be leaves or yard waste. When packing small items, it is helpful to put them together in a larger container and load them on the trailer.
Are you ready to Load Your Trailer?
Loading your trailer can seem intimidating, especially when you're also getting ready to travel with a trailer.
My Cargo Trailer is Swaying too Much
When the tongue weight is too light, this could cause trailer sway. One easy way to mitigate trailer sway is to put heavier items at the front of the trailer.
If you notice that your trailer is swaying more than you like, you might have to reload the trailer.
Balancing your load is one of a few ways to be safer on the road when you move your haul.
Should I Tie Down My Load?
Yes, you should tie down your load to prevent significant cargo movement.
Heavier items should be loaded first as they will require a more complex plan to remain tied down. You should load 60% of your total cargo over the front half of the trailer.
What is Vehicle Squatting?
Vehicle squatting can be a major problem that could create a bumpy ride or cause your vehicle to break out.
To avoid squatting evenly, distribute the weight on both sides of the trailer, stay within the weight limits of your trailer, and check your vehicle’s and trailer’s tires before you haul a load.
What is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating?
The GVWR will be posted on the VIN label on your trailer and is the most weight allowed for BOTH your trailer and cargo.
What is Gross Axle Weight Rating?
Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) is the maximum distributed weight that a vehicle's axle can support. Usually, the GAWR will include either FR or RR to indicate front (FR) or rear (RR) axles.
What is Tongue Weight?
Tongue weight is the amount of the trailer’s weight transferred to your tow vehicle through the trailer tongue or gooseneck – this weight must be less than the GVWR of the tow vehicle (view GVWR info above).
Subtract the axle weight from the total weight to determine the hitch weight. As a general rule of thumb, 10-20% of the total weight of a trailer plus its cargo should be on the tongue of the trailer.